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Prawn Fishermen Hold Meeting On Discards

Crustaceans Technology & equipment Post-harvest +2 more

SCOTLAND - The Scottish Fishermens Federation Nephrops Focus Group hosted a ground breaking meeting into reducing discards.

The meeting, held at its Aberdeen headquarters, was attended by fishermen, Marine Scotland management, gear manufacturers and experts.

The aim of the meeting was to discuss and investigate new innovative ideas for net designs that will significantly reduce and hopefully eliminate discards in the Nephrops (prawn or langoustine) fisheries.

All major prawn fishermen's associations from throughout Scotland were represented at the meeting. It was recognised that urgent action is required to enable the large and dispersed Scottish prawn fleet to both fish economically and also meet the ever more stringent demands placed upon fishermen to comply with emerging legislation likely to emanate from the EC in an effort to eliminate discards by 2015.

The group was given a presentation by Mike Montgomerie, Gear Technologist at Seafish, which highlighted the effects of various gear configurations as well as emerging selectivity measures now being trialled or employed worldwide.

There then followed submissions from gear suppliers - Gamrie Bay Nets, Scotnet, Faithlie Trawls and Pisces - who have been working on new designs over the last few months. There was much and varied input from the group and it was decided to trial the ideas over the coming months with an objective of producing two workable gear designs by January 2012 and two more during the course of that year.

SFF chief executive Bertie Armstrong said: "We had exactly the right people round the Federation table to make a really serious start on meeting the challenge of discarding in the Scottish langoustine industry. The wealth of available experience, expertise and knowledge will be fully utilised, starting immediately with trials of innovative selective nets."

SFF President Alan Coghill said: “Once again the fishing industry, working with net makers, and gear technologists, is taking the initiative in leading the way with innovative new gear designs to address the discards issue. However, to be successful, this project will require the support of regulators and fisheries managers in ensuring that catch statistics are used in a realistic manner so as to enable the implementation of practicable regulations.”

NFG Chairman John Hermse said: "I was delighted at the strength of purpose at yesterday's meeting and the willingness of all - some of whom may be business competitors - to pool information in order to achieve meaningful and workable solutions to the problems facing the fishermen with regard to selectivity and discards.

“The Scottish industry has always been innovative and forward thinking and the quality and breadth of dialogue at the meeting proves the point. The meeting was a case and point of industry, science and management working together to achieve positive solutions to problems. I would like to thank everyone at the meeting for their contributions."

Mike Montgomerie of Seafish said: “It is good to see skippers and net makers being proactive in coming up with innovative concepts and major trawl redesigns aimed at reducing discards in the Nephrops fishery. Over the coming months Seafish will be working with net makers and skippers to further develop and refine these ideas, aiming to reduce discards to an acceptable level and ensure a sustainable future for the fishery.”